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Coronavirus: Lebanese applaud virus-battling health workers from balconies

Initiative spread online with Arabic hashtag 'cheer for the heroes', shared by public figures including journalists, actors and Arab pop star Ragheb Alama
People take part in mass round of applause on Sunday to show appreciation for nurses and frontline health-care staff during coronavirus pandemic in Beirut (AFP)

Cheering erupted from balconies and windows in Lebanon on Sunday evening, as the country's citizens celebrated their "heroic" medical workers battling the coronavirus pandemic.

The initiative spread online with the Arabic hashtag "a cheer for the heroes", shared by public figures including journalists, actors and the Arab pop star Ragheb Alama.

In one Beirut neighbourhood, a woman draped in a Lebanese flag sang the national anthem as her neighbours drummed on pots and pans, an AFP journalist said.

Elsewhere, Lebanese played drums and blew vuvuzelas, sharing videos of the street performances online.

Similar initiatives have gained attention from Italy to France but they have remained rare in the Arab world.

Lebanon has reported 438 Covid-19 cases to date, with 10 deaths. 

To try to contain the spread of the virus, Lebanon has imposed isolation measures on its population until 12 April, with a nighttime curfew in effect. Schools, universities, restaurants and bars are closed. 

Lebanese security forces on Saturday cleared away a Beirut protest camp that served as the focal point for demonstrations against the governing elite that began in October, MEE reported.

Many fear the country's health-care system may be overwhelmed by cases.

Measures to contain the virus present a further blow to the country’s already moribund economy. The government declared this month it could not pay foreign currency debts and the local currency has lost about 40 percent of its value since October.